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Tabor City, North Carolina

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Title: Tabor City, North Carolina  
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Subject: Columbus County, North Carolina, Tabor City Correctional Institution, Joseph Chambers (minister), South Carolina Highway 410, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina
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Tabor City, North Carolina

Tabor City, North Carolina
Welcome Arch, June 2010
Welcome Arch, June 2010
Tabor City is located in North Carolina
Tabor City
Location within the state of North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Columbus
 • Mayor Royce Harper
 • Total 3.2 sq mi (8.2 km2)
 • Land 3.2 sq mi (8.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 105 ft (32 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 3,979
 • Density 1,253/sq mi (483.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28463
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-66520[1]
GNIS feature ID 0995822[2]
Website .org.taborcityncwww

Tabor City, known as the "Yam Capital of the World", is a town in Columbus County, North Carolina, United States. It is the southernmost town in Columbus County, one of North Carolina's largest counties by land area.[3] It is located just north of the North Carolina/South Carolina line, about 39 miles (63 km) north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and is just north of Loris, South Carolina. The population was 3,979 as of the 2010 census.[4]


  • History 1
    • Pre-European 1.1
    • 1760s – 1830s 1.2
    • 1840s – 1930s 1.3
    • 1940s – 1970s 1.4
    • 1980s to present 1.5
  • Climate 2
  • Culture 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Economic conditions 5
  • Geography 6
  • Government 7
  • Police and fire 8
  • Media 9
  • Schools 10
  • Tabor City Post Office 11
  • Notable residents 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14



According to Swanton (1952), before the arrival of the Europeans, the area was home to the Cape Fear Indians, the Waccamaw Indians, and the Saponas. The Waccamaws were a peaceful tribe, and when the European immigrants began to show up they withdrew and joined the Catawba people further west, and some, at least, joined the Seminoles in Florida. It is said that the celebrated chief of the Seminoles, Osceola, was born on the Waccamaw River, and tradition says that his father was John Powell, a white man living in what is now the present-day area of Columbus County.[5]

1760s – 1830s

During the Revolutionary War, men from the area joined with the rebels in the Battle of Brown Marsh. The Loyalists won, marking the high point of their efforts to defeat the revolution in the southern theater.[6] Men from the area may have also aided the American forces in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, which had a much more favorable outcome for the Americans.

Around 1830, the first building of what is now the Tabor City Baptist Church was constructed of logs.[7]

1840s – 1930s

The town was named after Mount Tabor Baptist Church (now Tabor City Baptist Church), which itself is named after the biblical [8] Originally named Mt. Tabor, the town adopted its current name after postal authorities confused it with Tarboro, North Carolina.[9] A tree located at the local Dale's Seafood Restaurant has been recognized as being older than the town itself.[10]

Business activity started in Tabor City by the mid-1850s, with the development of a saw mill, turpentine still, grocery store and dry goods store. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad located a terminus in the town in 1886. The town was officially incorporated in 1905.[11] In 1906, William Fowler donated land for the Tabor City Baptist Church, at the site which has been in continuous use since the completion of the construction and is still currently in use as of October 2014. The new church and sanctuary was completed in 1908.[12]

The first [7]

During the 1920s, what is now the Todd House Restaurant opened as a boarding house, often the choice of traveling businessmen, tobacco buyers, and hunters. Mary Todd, the owner of the business, would cook for her guests, leaving the pots on the stove for the boarders to serve themselves. (The restaurant remains a buffet-style restaurant as of September 2014, albeit in a more modern form.) A night's stay, including supper and breakfast was $2.00 per day. Mary Todd died in 1963, but a daughter continued to operate the business. The original buildings burned in 1971.[12]

In 1937, the Tabor City Lumber Company, a family owned business, specializing in all areas of the timber, lumber, and land management business, opened. The business remains in operation as of September 2014.[13]

1940s – 1970s

During the 1940s and 1950s, the area had at least two movie theaters, one of which was named the Ritz Theater.[14] The first Yam Festival was organized and held in 1948.[8]

The Tabor City Tribune is a weekly newspaper established by W. Horace Carter (a Stanly County native) in 1946. In 1950, after witnessing a Ku Klux Klan motorcade going through town, Carter began writing a series of editorials and reports critical of Klan activity.[15] The Klan began a recruiting campaign in 1950, and were later convicted of flogging people and other offenses, based largely on Carter's work.[16] Along with the Whiteville News Reporter, the Tribune was awarded the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its editorials against the Ku Klux Klan.[17] The Pulitzer Prize citation stated that the newspapers were awarded the prize "for their successful campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, waged on their own doorstep at the risk of economic loss and personal danger, culminating in the conviction of over one hundred Klansmen and an end to terrorism in their communities."[18] The newspapers were the first weeklies to win a Pulitzer Prize. The name of the Tabor City Tribune was changed to the Tabor-Loris Tribune in 1996.

The small W. Horace Carter Newspaper Museum in Tabor City at the Tabor-Loris Tribune offices has exhibits on Carter's life and work.[19][20] A documentary of the struggles between Carter and the Klan, titled The Editor and the Dragon: Horace Carter Fights the Klan, was shown on the North Carolina Public Broadcasting System in 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the struggle.[21] In addition, part of Carter's story was entered into the Congressional Record in 2007.[22] Carter's death in 2009 was noted in The New York Times.[23]

The Tabor City Methodist Church began services in 1953.[7]

Due to crimes in the area in the late 1950s and 1960s, especially fights at local bars, Tabor City earned the nickname "Razor City". Even though many of the crimes occurred just across the border in South Carolina, the Razor/Tabor near-rhyme stuck.[24]

As tobacco use declined beginning in the 1970s, the economy of the area suffered. Tobacco warehouses began closing, and the area suffered an economic downturn. In the early 1970s, the Ritz closed and the theater then lay dormant for years, eventually becoming an empty shell.

1980s to present

Today, the town focuses on agriculture, light manufacturing, retail and tourism. In addition, a large state prison provides many jobs for the area. Being so close to the coastal areas of Myrtle Beach and the Brunswick County beaches has led to a growth in the area housing industry.[9]

The Freedom Flag Trilogy located at the entrance to town was first flown July 4, 2007,[25] as does the Centennial Clock celebrating the town's 100th anniversary.

A revitalization effort of the Ritz theater was completed in 2014, and the former theater is now the Ritz Center, a community center for the arts.[26][27]


Tabor City has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with the following characteristics:

Winters are generally mild with January highs in the mid 50s °F (11–14 °C) and lows in the mid 30s °F (1–3 °C). Snowfall does not occur in most years, and when it does, is generally light.

Spring is reasonably lengthy, beginning in late February and lasting to early May. The presence of abundant dense vegetation in the area causes significant pollen dusting in the springtime that tends to turn rooftops and cars yellow.

Summer brings high humidity with temperatures usually in the upper 80s to lower 90s °F (31–34 °C). Heat indices can easily break the 100 °F (38 °C) mark, though the actual temperature does not in most years. Due to the proximity of warm Atlantic Ocean waters, the area may be hit by a tropical cyclone during the summer, at an average of once every seven years- although most are of a low level. About 40% of the annual rainfall is delivered from July to September.

Autumn is also generally humid at the beginning, with the same tropical threats as the summer. Some of the deciduous trees may lose their leaves; however most trees in the area are evergreens and therefore remain green year-round.[28]


The North Carolina Visitors Center in the middle of town, on business highway 701, assists tourist and locals with these and other activities. The visitor center is undergoing a series of improvements, funded partially by a $100,000 North Carolina Department of Transportation allocation.[29]

Once known as the "Yam Capital of the World", Tabor City pays tribute to the area's sweet potato crop with the annual North Carolina Yam Festival every fourth Saturday in October. The festival celebrates the sweet potato with crafts, train rides, classic cars and trucks, arts and vendors.[30] Also during the Yam festival, an annual art show is held,[31] Confederate Re-enactors present a recreation of a Civil War camp [32] and a pageant is held for various age groups.[33] The annual parade is considered a highlight of the festival.[34]

Based somewhat on the success of the fall Yam Festival, an annual spring festival was inaugurated in 2013, celebrating the Town and people of the area. This week-long festival offers several activities.[35]

The first Saturday in September, October and November sees a celebration of classic American cruising cars. The cruising starts at 5 p.m. and continues until 8 p.m. Food and other vendors are also present.[36]

Lake Tabor is a one star rated 2 acre lake [37] where boating events are often held.[38] It was closed for a part of the 2013, and 2014 summer due to algae infestations.[39] Additional amenities include a bait and tackle shop, piers, boat launches, picnic areas and ball fields. Bass tournaments are held monthly [40]

The area boasts several restaurants and shops, and Tabor City has several parks and athletic fields as part of the Columbus County Parks and Recreation Department.[41] A business in town offers access to batting cages. Adventure Beach Paintball has a field available to the public as well. Hunting and fishing are popular activities, as well as the over 100 golf courses within 40 miles (64 km) of the town. A local campground has a small waterpark.[42] A Fourth of July festival celebrating both past and current military personnel is held annually, with fireworks, food, a petting zoo, etc.[43] There is normally no charge for this event.

In operation as part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the Depot today serves as a train museum that operates on an irregular basis. This depot maintains a number of artifacts depicting the days when the railroad was an integral part of the daily living in Tabor City. The Depot offers visitors a replica of the town in the early 1900s as well as pictures of prominent citizens who led the town to its present growth. A retired caboose is also available for exploration.[12]


As of the United States census[1] of 2010, there were 2,511 people, 1,095 households, and 627 families residing in the town. The population density was 852.2 people per square mile (329.5/km2). There were 1,239 housing units at an average density of 379.1 per square mile (146.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 59.2% White, 36.2% African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.02% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population. Of the 1,095 households, 23% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.5% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.99. The town has shown marked growth in the last 14 years.[46] In the town the population was spread out with .4.2% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 20 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. The median income for a household in the town was $25,469, and the median income for a family was $40,044. Males had a median income of $32,528 versus $20,804 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,922. About 16.9% of families and 21.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.7% of those under age 18 and 22.5% of those age 65 or over.

Economic conditions

In the past, Tabor City was beset by poverty and high unemployment, especially as the agricultural based economy of the past was no longer viable.[47] Today, the town focuses on agriculture, light manufacturing, retail and tourism. In addition, a large state prison provides many jobs for the area. Being so close to the coastal areas of Myrtle Beach, SC and the Brunswick County, NC beaches has led to the expected growth in the area housing industry.[9] The town is served by two grocery stores, three drug stores, a growing number of restaurants and four banks and a credit union. Two hardware stores also operate in the town. The Tabor City Chamber of Commerce maintains a both a Facebook presence[48] and its own website.[49] In 2013, the president of the Tabor City Chamber of Commerce was arrested on assault charges.[50] The town has also upgraded its water, sewer and roads, to help attract new businesses.[51]

The Tabor City Industrial Park is located just northwest of town, a 36-acre certified industrial site perfect for small to medium-sized users seeking 5 to 10 acres of land. Existing tenants include Southeastern Materials and the Tabor City Business Development Center.[52][53]

Atlantic Packaging, owner and publisher of the above reference Horace Carter paper, the Tabor-Loris Tribune, founded in 1946, continues to be a major employer for the area.[54] On September 17, 2014, it was announced that Atlantic Packaging had agreed to purchase three of International Paper's largest paperboard converting facilities.[55]

Carolina Southern stopped railroad service to the town in 2012, and efforts to restore service have proven difficult.[56] However, as of July 2014, positive developments were reported to return railroad service to the area, a move considered necessary for spurring economic development in the area.[57] Carolina Southern agreed, in July 2014, to begin the process allowing the counties of Horry County, South Carolina, Marion, South Carolina and Columbus County, NC to assume control of the area rail lines with the hopes repairing the railroad tracks and bridges and then finding a buyer to re-establish service to the area.[58] A public hearing on the matter was held on October 6, 2014.[55] During the October 6th meeting, the Columbus County Commissioners voted to support the initiative to restart rail service with a 10-year grant for the program. Some of the commissioners may not have revealed that they will benefit from the re-establishment of rail service.[59] The Horry County Council, in a vote on October 7, 2014 also voted to provide funding to reestablish railroad service to the area.[60] Although originally it was thought service could be restored as early as spring 2015,[61] however, the sale of the railroad was not completed until August, 2015 to R.J. Coleman Railroad..[62] A new target date of February 2016 was announced, as millions of dollars are expected to be spent repairing the rail lines that have been idle since 2011.[63]


Tabor City is approximately 30 miles (48 km) from the ocean at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.2 km2), all of it land.[4] It is located on the border with South Carolina, about 30 miles (48 km) inland from the Atlantic, 28 miles (45 km) north of Myrtle Beach, and 58 miles (93 km) west of Wilmington. Lake Tabor, a 149-acre (60 ha) lake, is on the east side of town.[25]

US Route 701 runs through the town in a generally north-south direction, while North Carolina Highway 904 generally runs thorough the town in an east-west direction. The two highways intersect at the center of town. In addition, a business loop of US 701 serves also as the main business corridor in Tabor. North Carolina Highway 410 starts at the NC/SC state line before going through the town and continuing on to Chadbourn, North Carolina

Nearest cities:

Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Wilmington, North Carolina (57.2 miles, pop. 75,838)

Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Raleigh, North Carolina (122.5 miles, pop. 276,093)


Tabor City has a town mayor and a town council, assisted by a town manager.[8]

Past mayors have included:

  • W. A, Williams – 1953
  • W. Horace Carter 1953–1955
  • H. G. Dameron 1955–1957
  • Howard Harrelson 1957–1969
  • Robert Soles Sr
  • Royce Harper 2010 –

Tabor City is in the 13th District for the North Carolina Senate, represented by Michael Walters as of September 2014,[64] and in the 46th district for the North Carolina House of Representatives, where, as of September 2014, they are represented [65] by Ken Waddell. Tabor City is in United States House of Representatives' North Carolina 7th Congressional District, NC-7. The current Representative as of August 2014 is Mike McIntyre, although he has announced he will not seek re-election.[66] he will be replaced by republican David Rouzer.[67]

The city offers its own water and sewer treatment plant.[68]

Police and fire

Tabor City has its own police department.[69] As of April 2014, the police chief is Donald Dowless.[70] A Tabor City Jail was in operation as of 1939.[7] As of 2014, the police department takes any persons needing detaining to the Columbus County Detention Center in Whiteville, NC. In addition, the city is also served by the Columbus County Sheriff.[71] As of April 2014, the sheriff is Lewis Hatcher. The Tabor City Court house is located on 5th street, and hears district court cases on an as needed basis. Superior Court cases for the area are heard in the Whiteville Courthouse. The crime rate in Tabor City is somewhat lower than surrounding cities of a similar size.[46] The Tabor City Fire Department serves the city and assists several volunteer departments within the county. Cooperation is often necessary with various South Carolina departments. New trucks were delivered in 1939, 1947 and 1955.[7]

One of the largest North Carolina Prisons, the Tabor City Correctional Institution is operated within the city limits.[72] The construction of the Tabor City Correctional Institution (TCI) began in May 2006 and was completed in April 2008.[73] TCI is located two miles (3 km) northwest from the center of Tabor City, although it is considered a part of the city limits.[74] The cost to build the prison was approximately $94 million,[75] although the use of inmate labor greatly reduced what this amount would have been if private contractors had been used.[76] The Tabor City Prison officially opened on August 18, 2008.[77]


In addition to the Tabor-Loris Tribune, published weekly since 1946, the town is served by AM-1370 station WTAB. The feed is also available on line at

For a while, from 1965 to 1998, WYNA served as the sister station to WTAB and was located in Tabor City. In 1998, Pamplico Broadcasting bought the station, which played country music at that time, and increased its power from 3,000 to 25,000 Watts. After stunting with classical music in October and November 1998, and Christmas music in December, WYNA went off the air in preparation for a move that included changing its community of license to Calabash, North Carolina.[78]

WGHW has a translator in the area to widen its broadcast area.[79]

Television, radio and daily newspapers from Wilmington, Fayetteville, Florence and Myrtle Beach are easily accessible to the residents of the city. The Myrtle Beach Sun News, Wilmington Star-News, and the Fayetteville Observer are available daily to the area. The Whiteville News Reporter is available twice a week as well. Most provide at least some measure of coverage for the town.

Cable TV is provided by Time Warner for the majority of the city as well as Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative in the outlying areas.[80] According in AOL, as of July 2014, being situated between the three markets leads to 35 channels being available free via an over the air antenna.[81]

Internet services are available by the two cable companies, as well as Centurylink. Free internet is available at the local public library. Satellite internet is also an option in many of the more remote outlying areas of the Greater Tabor City Metropolitan area.


A circa 1900 one-room school house was restored by the historical societies of Tabor City and Columbus County. This facility was purchased and donated to the town of Tabor City by Richard Wright. A 3-D tour of the schoolhouse is available on-line, allowing visitors to come and relive the old days when life "was simple and oh so mellow".[82] The one-room school house may represent North Carolina in a forthcoming book about historic school buildings in the United States.[83] It has previously been featured in statewide magazines.[84] Prior to South Columbus High School was Tabor City High School, which closed in 1992.

Tabor City is home to South Columbus High School.[85] The former Tabor City High School facility is now home to Tabor City Elementary School. Tabor City Middle School [86] houses grades 6 through 8. These schools are part of the Columbus County School System. One teacher was awarded recognition in 2013 for teaching 57 years in the Tabor City area.[87] In addition, a charter school, the Roger Bacon Academy Columbus Charter School[88] and an early college high school, the Columbus Career and College Academy[89] serve the area. Colleges close by include Coastal Carolina University.

Tabor City Post Office

The Tabor City Post Office was in operation as early as 1939.

A new location was opened in 1942, and included delivery to some areas in South Carolina. A new route was established in 1947, and growth necessitated a new building in 1964, still in use as of August 2014. The post office for Tabor city is located at 200 East 5th street.[90]

South Carolina delivery was terminated in 1981, and transferred to the Loris, SC post Office.[7]

Notable residents


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External links

  • Town of Tabor City official website
  • Oral History Interview with Horace Carter from Oral Histories of the American South
  • Greater Tabor City Chamber of Commerce
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